The Ridgerunners win on Tuesday night over Verdigris earns Grove the Oklahoma Class 4A District 5 championship. The Ridgerunners matched up with the Cardinals on Monday and Tuesday, having to win both games to claim the title.
On Monday, the Ridgerunners won a 3-2 game in the bottom of the seventh inning, before going to Verdigris the following day to claim the title. The Ridgerunners will celebrate their seniors Friday night against the Northwest Arkansas Hornets at 5:00 pm. On Thursday, Grove will play Daniel Webster in a varsity doubleheader beginning at 5:00 pm. The Ridgerunners are now 23-5 on the season and 12-0 in district play.
Senior pitcher Cade Coble earned both wins against Verdigris. On Monday, he came into a tied game and got the third out of the top of the seventh before the Ridgerunners walked it off in the bottom of the inning. This made Coble the pitcher of record, despite senior Chat Hayes having pitched 6.2 innings. On Tuesday, Coble threw a complete game, recording the second win in as many days.
Grove 3, Verdigris 2
The atmosphere at Jim Beauchamp Field was electric as the Ridgerunners and Cardinals got underway for the first game of their championship series.
The Cardinals scored first when a curveball rolled through the Ridgerunners catcher and got far enough away to allow the runner to score from third. So with two outs in the top of the first, the Cardinals struck first taking a 1-0 lead.
The score held until the bottom of the third when Toby Cearley lead off the inning with a double to right. Zane Knox followed with a walk putting runners on first and second. Jack Gentry tried to sacrifice the runners over with a bunt but got it too close to the pitcher who attempted to throw Cearley out at third. The throw was late and the Ridgerunners had the bases loaded.
Chase Coughran hit a hard ground ball that the Cardinal second baseman dove for and then threw away when he tried to make a tough play at first. Cearley and Knox both scored on the play. A strikeout and botched squeeze that turned into a double play ended the threat for the Ridgerunners but they held a 2-1 lead.
Verdigris came right back in the top of the fourth inning after Hayes hit the first batter in the inning with a curveball on his big toe. A strikeout later, the Cardinal hitter got a ball up into the jet stream blowing out to left and deposited a ball off the wall scoring the runner from first and tying the game 2-2.
Both teams threatened but neither team scored again until the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Cearley hit a deep fly ball into center field that cleared the center fielder. Cearley was safe at third with a stand up triple and the winning run.
Verdigris elected to intentionally walk both Knox and Gentry to set up a force out at home plate and a potential double play to end the inning. Sophomore Chase Coughran stepped to the plate and hit a one-hop rocket to the shortstop who ran to second to record the second out of the inning.
As courtesy runner Gunner Jensen slid into second, the Cardinal shortstop was not ready to deal with the runner as he threw to first. The potential game saving double play ball was thrown into the dugout and the Ridgerunners clenched the victory.
Colin Craig had two hits for the Ridgerunners. Cearley had the only other two hits the Ridgerunners recorded in the game. Coughran drove in all three runs for Grove.
Grove 10, Verdigris 5
After winning the first game, the Ridgerunners were still in the midst of a must win situation. If Grove lost, the two teams would head into a tie-breaker, which would have been decided by head-to-head records, which would have also resulted in a tie. The second tie-breaker would be based on the amount of runs each team had scored throughout the year. Fortunately, no tie-breaker was necessary.
The game was scoreless after one inning when the Ridgerunners came up to bat in the top of the second. Seth Willis was hit by a pitch with one out and Lane Rutherford followed with a single on a hit and run sending Willis to third.
Following a pop up, Coble walked to load the bases. With two strikes, Cearley hit a hard ground ball through the right side of the infield giving the Ridgerunners the lead. Knox followed with a bases clearing double to deep right field. The Ridgerunners now had a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Coble hit a line drive into left scoring two more runs. Earlier in the inning, Hayes scored on a wild pitch after he walked. The Ridgerunners lead was now 7-2.
The Ridgerunners tacked on two more runs in the fourth with one out. Gentry doubled off the wall just missing a home run. Coughran followed that up with his own double and Hayes followed with a line drive single. The Ridgerunners had stretched their lead to seven at 9-2.
The score stayed there until the top of the seventh. Willis walked and Gunner Jensen came in to run for him. Jensen stole second. Jensen then stole third and scored when the throw went into left field. With just three outs to go for a district title, the Ridgerunners were up eight.
Verdigris scored three meaningless runs in the bottom of the inning making the final score 10-5.
The Ridgerunners will play at home on Thursday and celebrate the seniors on Friday, April 19. Both games will begin at 5:00 pm.